Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago White Sox

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights


White Sox 3, Angels 0: Chris Sale was fantastic. And not just because of that suh-weet 1983 throwback jersey. A perfect game into the seventh and then the hit that inning to Mike Trout was all the Angels could muster.

Indians 4, Tigers 3: Watched this one with the girlfriend’s parents. Tigers fans. Let’s just say that Jose Valverde will not be getting a Christmas card from them. Her dad called the implosion before it happened. I suppose one can do that when one watches Valverde enough. In other news, lots of praise for Asdrubal Cabrera’s fancy footwork on a double play in the bottom of the ninth. And it was. But if Torii Hunter was actually running it out at full speed it wouldn’t have been a double play. No word on this from the announcers. Found that odd.

Reds 5, Brewers 1: Nothing so fun in this one as some things I saw in Cincinnati when I went to the game on Saturday. Best thing there: Brewers pitcher struck out a Reds hitter, Jonathan Lucroy fires it off to third base to send it around the horn and Yuniesky Bentancourt … drops it.  Pretty epic. Here Donald Lutz drove in three. God, shut up, Lutz.

Cubs 2, Nationals 1: Storen and Soriano should film a buddy cop movie in which they take over cases from ace detectives and then totally lose the trail of the killer.

Pirates 3, Mets 2:  I suppose Matt Harvey isn’t going to be near perfect every time. And plays like this and like this don’t happen every day either.

Blue Jays 12, Red Sox 4: Two homers for Jose Bautista. Three more from other Blue Jays. Two of three from the Sox. Maybe that’s something to grow on.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 2: After being shut down on Friday AND Saturday night, the Rockies return the favor with a gem from Jorge De La Rosa and a three-run homer from Troy Tulowitzki.

Rays 4, Padres 2: The Rays are heating up. They’ve won five straight. Here a homer from James Loney — where the hell is his heat coming from? — and solid bullpen work brought it home.

Giants 5, Braves 1: Highlight of the game was Pablo Sandoval hitting a ball into McCovey Cove and the guy in the kayak totally eating it face first into the water when he tried to get the ball. I may or may not have wished for a great white shark to eat him when it happened, but I may or may not have been aggravated at my team playing like garbage too, so there was an excuse for my hostility.

Yankees 4, Royals 2: Homers from Vernon Wells and Robinson Cano. Umpire Laz Diaz also tried to goad Hiroki Kuroda into a fight, which was simply ridiculous.

Dodgers 5, Marlins 3: Nice bounceback start for Chris Capuano, who had one to forget last Monday against the Diamondbacks. Miami cures a lot of ills.

Orioles 6, Twins 0:  Wei-Yin Chen was cruising along for five shutout innings before having to leave with an oblique strain, but the bullpen finished the shutout for him. Baltimore has won six of eight.

Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Brandon McCarthy’s best start of the year went for naught when Philly came back late, scoring two off Heath Bell in the ninth and then capped off by a two-run single by Ryan Howard in the tenth. Thank you, by-the-book managing from Kirk Gibson. McCarthy had 87 pitches through eight shutout innings. He has thrown over 100 pitches four times this year. You’d think he’d get a chance to pitch the ninth.

Rangers 12, Astros 7: “[Team] completes sweep of Astros” is Shift + CTRL + A on my machine. What is it on yours?

Mariners 6, Athletics 1: Kendrys Morales hit a three-run homer. Joe Saunders remains unbeatable at home. Jason Bay hit a homer and Jesus Montero had an RBI. No word what the other six or seven DHs they have did.

Jessica Mendoza and Chris Archer were great in the booth

Jessica Mendoza
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Not news: Jessica Mendoza, who has been excellent on all of the ESPN broadcasts she has done since taking over for Curt Schilling, was excellent last night too.

She was great on the nuts and bolts, continued to show that she can describe hitting mechanics better than most color commentators — way more of them seem to be more comfortable talking about pitching — and was a seamless presence in the booth in terms of flow, timbre and all of the aesthetic aspects of broadcasting. If she has a fault thus far it’s that she leans on some cliches about hitters’ mindsets and desire to win sometimes. This puts her in with approximately 100% of all other color commentators in baseball now and throughout the history of baseball, of course, so it’s not really a demerit.

Ultimately, the true test of a good commentator is whether they (a) add insight; and (b) do so without distracting or upstaging the game. In this Mendoza is superior to most commentators in baseball and clearly superior to the “stop and listen to me” brand of analysts the major networks have employed on national broadcasts in recent years.

Indeed, the one of the best compliments I think I can give Mendoza is that she was — in the literal sense, not the judgmental sense — unremarkable. Meaning: during the game and after there was nothing she said or did that was worthy of the highly-critical remarks almost every broadcaster gets, going back through Schilling, Kruk, Harold Reynolds Tim McCarver, Joe Morgan and everyone else ESPN and Fox have forced upon us in their history doing playoff baseball. I’m on Twitter during most playoff games and sometimes the broadcaster bashing is more interesting than the game. Mendoza gives the would-be bashers very little material.

At least those who would bash on the actual merits. There remains a group of deadenders who are irked by her very presence in the booth because she is a woman. The New York times rounds up some of the less mouth-breathery types today, but God knows there are many, many worse. Some of them even in professional media. At least for now. Whether you choose to ignore those people or choose to engage them — which, their dead end opinions notwithstanding can be a useful exercise in my opinion — know that they are out there being miserable and sexist as God and the First Amendment intended them to be.

While there are many who slam Mendoza on the faulty premise that she lacks credentials and experience in the booth, there was one person in the ESPN booth last night, at least for a while, who was a total TV noob. His name was Chris Archer. He pitches a bit for the Tampa Bay Rays. And lo and behold, he was pretty damn good himself.

Archer needs some polish for style — he has a lot of “ummms” and “uhhhs” about him — but his analysis is both sharp and quick. Meaning he was RIGHT ON the points when he needed to be without any of the usual prompting guests in the booth need from the play by play guy. At one point he even flowed into play-by-play and did a pretty good job of it.  Chris: if that pitching stuff doesn’t work out, you have a bright, bright future in television.

So, on the first night of the playoffs, there were no complaints about the broadcast. Mostly because the broadcasters weren’t the stars of the show. The game was. And it was complemented nicely by a couple of good voices.

And John Kruk.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.